Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Methods of Extracting Essential Oils

Essential oils, also known as volatile or ethereal oils are concentrated, hydrophobic liquids that contain volatile fragrant plant compounds. There are a number of essential oils that have been used as medicines many times to help people lead a fit and healthy life. Besides, they have been used for skin treatments, cancer remedies as well as several other uses. Essential oils are also used in perfumes and cosmetics, for adding the scent to incense and various household-cleaning products. Essential oils can be extracted through several methods such as distillation and others.

Different processes used for extracting essential oils are diverse. It basically depends upon the plant or flower, which is being considered.

Some of the many methods of extracting essential oils are as follows:

� Steam and hydro distillation: It is one of the most common methods used for extracting essential oils. It places the plant, from which essential oils is to be extracted in a huge chamber. The plant is put to steam and the whole chamber gets filled with steam. Once the steam is filled in the entire chamber, it goes through the interior of the plant and brings out the oil, from inside. The steam starts going upward till it reaches the condenser where the steam finally gets cooled and then turns back into water. In addition, the oil captured by the steam also returns to its previous state. Later oil is separated from water and can be used. It is known as �hydrosol�. The quality of oil extracted by hydro distillation depends upon a number of factors, which are identified through the processes such as temperature, pressure and time. These factors can increase or decrease the quality of the oil because a plant�s essence is present in these essential oils. In order to extract essential oils, you need to follow the instructions properly or else you would not be able to get the desired result. Therefore, it is essential to incorporate the entire process of distillation at the right temperature, within the right amount of time and with an appropriate air pressure in the chamber.

� Solvent Extraction: Solvent extraction is another method of extracting essential oils. In this method, a hydrocarbon is added to the plant material so that it helps dissolve the essential oil. Once the solution gets filtered and concentrated by distillation, there remains a substance containing resin or a mixture of wax and essential oil. Pure alcohol is used to extract the oil. The oil is left behind once the alcohol evaporates. Though it is often used to extract essential oils, it is not considered to be the best method, as the solvents often leave a small amount of residue behind that may cause allergies and harm the immune system.

Cold Pressing: Cold pressing extracts essential oils from citrus rinds like orange, lemon, bergamot and grapefruit. The rinds are placed separately from the fruit and are chopped or ground. Finally, they are pressed and the watery mixture of the essential oils is obtained.
About the Author

For the past 10 years Marilyn Reid has been active as an advocate for Alternative Health Therapies. The author of a soon to be published book on Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, Marilyn has been delving into the upstate New York fields of therapeutic Essential Oils for over 7 years. For more information check out,

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